A/N-- Heyla. I got bored, then Kugia suggested we write something. And I quote- 'I only offered the plot bunny to Naolin for dinner, she cooked it'. As appalled as I am at the idea of cooking plot-bunnies (I prefer to bribe them with cupcakes), I took the idea. It sounded fun. The plot is hers (for the most part), and the title. The writing's mine. It should be a few chapters long, depending. And yes, Tomoe gets a mini-mention. No, she will not be a part of this story. I'd be far too tempted to kill her off. Hope you enjoy. If you find any errors, please tell me. I don't have a beta, but I checked it over several times. Of course, when one's half-asleep...

Natsuki had been having a bad week. It was, in fact, one of the worst weeks this year. Not that there had been that many so far, but still. She'd had no vacation to speak of, having to spend the entire summer hitting the books with Mai. The highlight was probably when Mikoto took the expression literally. Aside from that short-lived moment of hilarity though, it seemed nothing had gone right. She was sure her teachers had joined in some kind of evil conspiracy to make her fail, what with the work they'd been gleefully handing her. Mai had had the nerve to tell her she was over-using her imagination. Keh.
Though she'd never tell Mai, the girl's tutoring skills left much to be desired. It wasn't that she was bad, not really. Just that she wasn't…

Shizuru. If it had been her, she would have learned more quickly. Or perhaps, her mind mocked, you would have been more distracted. She quickly discarded that suggestion.

Besides, the older girl was busy with schoolwork as well. They had hardly talked at all since the year began, and those rare moments usually only lasted a few minutes. A hurried phone conversation before classes, a letter or two. She didn't want to admit it, but she probably could have made more of an effort. She'd been given a spare set of keys to her house, she could have visited whenever she'd wanted to. And it's not that she didn't want to, just that she was… Scared, her mind piped up again. Scared of her, scared of what you might think. Scared that, after all that's happened, you won't be welcome anymore.

I'm ignoring you, she told herself resolutely. Different train of thought, then. Besides the work and teachers and…stuff, she had to deal with her alarm clock. Now, if it had been a normal alarm clock, she might have thrown it against the wall and been done with it. But, unfortunately for her, it wasn't. When Mai had found the remains of her old clock in the trash bin, she'd gone out and bought her a hideous monstrosity that shamed the name of clocks everywhere. It was more accurate to call it a thing. A large pink thing with 'mauve' polka-dots. At least, that was what the tag had said. When Mai had her mind set on something, she usually got her way. And this time, she was tackling the problem of Natsuki being late for the 8th day in a row. A couple weeks ago, she'd come to her apartment with a bag. Natsuki hadn't taken much notice until her friend had produced the thing and set it down in front of her. She'd stared at is suspiciously, finally asking what it was. She sighed, remembering Mai's answer.

'It's an alarm clock, of course.'

'That's great. Why is it here?'

'Because I went out of my way and bought it for you, and you're going to use it.'

'Hell no!'

'Use it, or I won't tutor you anymore.'

She'd stared, horrified at the prospect of losing Mai's help. As annoying as it was, she wouldn't be able to get by in lessons without her. Having no choice, she'd grudgingly accepted it. The next morning, when it had released an ear-splitting screech in her ear, she'd had to resist the temptation to throw it out her window. She thought she was doing reasonably well, three weeks having passed without much incident. The only time she'd actually been mad enough to hurl it at the wall, its rubbery sides had saved it from a cruel fate. A well-deserved one, but there was nothing she could do about that.

So, all in all, one might understand why she thought nothing else the year could throw at her could be as bad as this. Alas, poor Natsuki. Trouble has ever been your friend.

Today was a better day than most though. It was a day off for all those students who weren't participating in the school play. She didn't really relish the idea of making a fool of herself on stage, especially in Romeo and Juliet. That gave her plenty of time to kill. Mulling over different options, she'd settled on sleeping in, eating a quick lunch, then going for a ride. Preferably somewhere open, with as few curves as possible. That required less concentration. She'd done the sleeping part, and was all set for making instant noodles and leaving when her phone rang. Well, whoever it was, she wasn't here. There were other things to do. Like not burn the noodles again. It took an incredible amount of effort to mess up on making those, as Mai had told her, but somehow she managed to one out of every two times. It seemed as though today would be one of her better days.


'I'm not here. Leave a message.'

Now all she had to do was stand there for a minute or so while it boiled, and then she'd be-



"Natsuki, I know you don't have school today. If you're there, please pick up."

How did she...? Why is she…?


It almost sounded as though she was choking, but what could… Her thoughts were cut into by a hacking cough that didn't sound as though it could have come from Shizuru. There was nothing delicate or ladylike about it. Without a second thought, she rushed to the phone.


"Ah, so Natsuki was there after all."

"That… I was…busy."

It was a bad excuse, and she knew it. But she never answered the phone unless she felt the conversation held with whoever was calling would be worthwhile. She'd had more than her fair share of hassling experiences with salesmen.

"I see."

The voice on the other end had a hint of laughter in it. She could feel her face heat up. Brushing it aside, she decided it must be from the stove. Okay, so the stove was on the other side of the room. Same difference, really.

"What do you- er, why did you call?"

She tried, and succeeded, to keep the eagerness out of her voice. For the most part. But if Shizuru noticed, she kept it to herself.

"My parents are away on business, and I'm afraid I'm confined to my bed. I seem to have come down with something…"

'Something' was an understatement, if the cough had been any example.

"You have a cold like that and you're home alone? What about that girl who stal- follows you around?"

In the more recent of Shizuru's letters, she'd talked of a younger girl who, from Natsuki's point of view, worshipped the ground she walked on. Shizuru insisted she was just interested in her welfare, but honestly. The last time she'd been sick, the girl had followed her around all day with a box of tissues. Not normal.

"How kind of Natsuki to worry about me. Though I'm sure Ms. Marguerite would be glad to help, I can't ask her to miss her classes for my sake."

Is that the only reason?


She hadn't meant for it to come out so lonely sounding, but it had. Damn her mouth. Or brain. Whichever one was responsible.

"Of course, I'd prefer Natsuki's company to anyone else's."

She would say that. But…

"Wait, my company?"

"Yes, that's why I called. Would you mind taking care of me today? I can't really leave the bed, so for food…"

"You want me to come over there to cook?"

Really… Couldn't she get someone else to do it? It was such a nice day today, and…and… Oh great, she was sniffling.

"Does Natsuki not care if I'm left helpless, lying in my bed all day with no one for company…?"

Well, yes, but that wasn't…

Shizuru coughed again. It sounded worse than last time. Damn.

"Fine, I'll come! Just…don't get any worse, alright?"

Natsuki was positive she could hear the older girl smiling.

"I shall wait with baited breath."


Hn. Well, it wouldn't be so bad. How hard could cooking be? And speaking of cooking… Her nose twitched. Was something burning? …Oh hell. Alright, so this had been one of her off days. Hurrying over to the stove, she was greeted by the flaming pack of noodles. Being placed too close to the stove for a prolonged amount of time must have…gah. Just gah. Dousing them with water, she prodded the blackened mass within with one end of a chopstick. Nothing edible there. Maybe Shizuru would have something. Dumping the water that had been boiling down the sink, she grabbed the extra keys from the countertop and rushed out the door.

Alright, so, yeah. I wanted to write something less dark than my other story may well be, and Kugia provided me with a nice little plot. It won't be long, and updates will probably be few and far between. Bleh. I already owe two drabbles, and chapter 6 needs to be written. Please review. I do so love reviews.